Sustainable human presence in extreme environments such as lunar and martian bases will require bioregenerative components to human life support systems where plants are used for generation of oxygen, food, and water. Reduced atmospheric pressures will be used to minimize mass and engineering requirements. Few studies have assessed the metabolic and developmental responses of plants to reduced pressure and varied oxygen atmospheres. The first tests of hypobaric pressures on plant gas exchange and biomass production at the Johnson Space Center will be initiated in January 1996 in the Variable Pressure Growth Chamber (VPGC), a large, closed plant growth chamber rated for 10.2 psi. Experiments were designed and protocols detailed for two complete growouts each of lettuce and wheat to generate a general database for human life support requirements and to answer questions about plant growth processes in reduced pressure and varied oxygen environments. The central objective of crop growth studies in the VPGC is to determine the influence of reduced pressure and reduced oxygen on the rates of photosynthesis, dark respiration, evapotranspiration and biomass production of lettuce and wheat. Due to the constraint of one experimental unit, internal controls, called pressure transients, will be used to evaluate rates of CO2 uptake, O2 evolution, and H2O generation. Pressure transients will give interpretive power to the results of repeated growouts at both reduced and ambient pressures. Other experiments involve the generation of response functions to partial pressures of O2 and CO2 and to light intensity. Protocol for determining and calculating rates of gas exchange have been detailed. In order to build these databases and implement the necessary treatment combinations in short time periods, specific requirements for gas injections and removals have been defined. A set of system capability checks will include determination of leakage rates conducted prior to the actual crop growouts. Schedules of experimental events for lettuce and wheat are outlined and include replications in time of diurnal routines, pressure transients, variable pO2, pO2/pCO2 ratio, and light intensity responses.